Archive for the ‘Work Related’ Category

How will you pay for and sustain this type of project?

Important note -I am not just talking about  the first year but how to continue to provide devices and support for the future and beyond.

When we first started talking about funding for this project 2 yrs ago I was asked by administration at lunch one day, what do your think a 1:1 project would cost for A K-12 deployment. My response was well thats a loaded question. I started thinking about infrastructure, devices , support models, any how our technology department would be turned upside down. I answered with 1.25 to 1.5 million. I told them this was a logical guess b/c not fully knowing what devices we were going to use and what type of upgrades our infrastructure needed. I based this on some quotes I had for laptops multiplied by our enrollment and adding 10% for spares and growth. Everything else was a logical guess. This was all I could do at that time. I couldn’t tell weather their reaction was good or bad. I answered the question, maybe I shouldn’t have.

We started by using some grant money to start a study on one to one and get some of our questions answered by visiting other schools that have a successful one to one programs .  We visited and talked to about 3 to 5 school corps around the state of Indiana. We discussed their project details with the school administration, teachers, and students at these schools. It was a very enjoyable experience getting to see schools with this kind of technology. The best advice we received was that you need to get the school corp to buy into this with additional funding outside of a normal technology budget. Most if not all technology budgets at least in public schools  cannot afford to start or sustain a project of this size. (Just a note, the best guess I gave our admin was an outright purchase of equipment.)  . I think it is reasonable to assume that a technology budget should be able to maintain services like software licensing, internet/wan connections and server systems. You also need the support of your administration including the schoolboard. They will be your anchor in your funding formula. There also needs to be extensive discussions with parents and teachers b/c they will be effected as well, this is a technology lifestyle change. Teachers will have additional training and need time for that. (time is money) Plus parents will see changes in textbook fees and expectations for their children . Some schools made their schoolboard meetings a one to one style for meeting agendas and notes. Once the school board was using this new technology and understanding the benefits it was much easier to request funding b/c they understand why this was needed. I thought this was a great idea, and believe it or not we didn’t do this for our own reasons that I will not get into.

One thing when it comes to funding of any kind is to be very cautious of is one time grants. Don’t get me wrong they are a great way for funding but its only temporary money. Imagine someone giving everyone in your local town a new laptop and internet(paid for by the grant). This is only good for as long as the device is new and works well. You are told this is a one time deal and there will be no replacement for these devices or internet connection in 5 yrs. So what happens in the 5 years. All devices are old outdated or broken and there is no internet. Now, if you used this grant and had a plan to maintain and replace these devices and keep the internet service going after the grant ran out that would be ok. I have just seen too many times when a government project was funded with a grant and never maintained after the initial project.  Grants are not bad they just need to be used with caution and future thought for funding after they have been exhausted.

In our specific situation our superintendent and school board setup a bond for our initial equipment and infrastructure overhaul . After the initial purchase and a year has went by ,some textbook funding can be allocated to the project. Each year more and more money can be used from textbook funds to pay for the devices. In our situation textbooks will not be purchased and the administrators and staff will use older textbook information and the internet to create a digital textbook customized towards  our specific curriculum (Common Core). Keep in mind I don’t know alot about school budgets, bonds and how to move money around , I am really focused on the technology side of things,  plus thats what I get paid to do. We also stay out of the curriculum part as well.

Here is what we decided to do.

  • Lease student and staff hardware for 4 yrs. (9-12 students, all staff  in 2 separate leases) We will own the devices and trade them in for credit towards the new devices in 4 years. This was simpler and more cost effective. There are other leasing options  but this is what fit our situation best.
  • All other items were payed from the technology bond. (Labor, Infrastructure, other misc items
  • Professional Development was added to the lease.

I havent see the final numbers but I think we spent less than 500k on the first year for our infrastructure, devices, training, and software.  Remember this was with a lease for devices for the 1st year, the lease payment will occur each year. Plus all the infrastructure upgrades, Servers, Network hardware, cabling, and wireless will have to be evaluated every 3 to 5 yrs to be sure they can perform as needed.

This is in a nutshell how we started our Schools fundung for One to One project.

Stay Tuned for Part 3 – Will your technology infrastructure handle this project for the next 3-5 yrs? (Servers , Network, Wireless, Internet Bandwidth, Webfilter, Firewall,etc)